A long time ago – a bit over 8 years, in fact – my first Alex Verus novel came out.
Getting started as a debut author is a dicey business. When Fated came out in 2012, I’d technically been published before (the Ninja books) but those had come out in the mid-2000s, had been in a different genre, and hadn’t been particularly successful, so that really didn’t help. Effectively I was an unknown. And back then, new unknown urban fantasy authors were very common. The Twilight books were still in everyone’s minds, and hundreds of young adult, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance series had sprouted up in their wake.
Unfortunately, by 2012, the urban fantasy tide was receding. Most of the genre’s big success stories (Jim Butcher, Charlaine Harris, Ilona Andrews, Patricia Briggs) had been successful a good long while ago, and the newer authors hoping to follow in their footsteps were mostly failing. You couldn’t go a month without some new urban fantasy series being launched, failing to find an audience, and sinking without trace.
So when it turned out Jim Butcher liked Fated enough to give a blurb for it, my publishers grabbed that quote and put it on the cover.
It was a longish blurb, so they were able to quote a different bit from it for the cover of book 2.
And a shorter phrasing for book 3.
By book 4 they’d run out of new material, so had to start recycling.
Looking back on it, it’s hard to say just how much difference that blurb of Jim’s made, but if I had to guess, I’d say: probably a fair bit. Blurbs won’t make a reader finish a book that they think is boring, and they won’t make someone stick with a series . . . but they can make a reader give a book a chance when they otherwise wouldn’t have paid attention to it And when you’re starting out and no-one knows your name, that’s a big help.
Which brings us to Jim Butcher’s new book, coming out this year. Well, there are two, actually, Peace Talks and Battle Ground. Orbit UK just did their cover launch for Battle Ground. It looks like this:
It’s not really the same, of course – Jim doesn’t need any help these days (whereas, starting out, I definitely did). Still, there’s something satisfying about it. In a weird way, more than any of the other successes I’ve had, it makes me feel like I’ve finally arrived.